Magic's Vucevic, Fournier team up to vanquish Pistons
It was a two-man Magic show, and the Pistons couldn’t find an answer to their tricks.
Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier provided a solid one-two punch for the Orlando Magic, fueling a furious second-half push and leading the Magic to a 105-96 victory over the Pistons on Sunday night at Amway Center.
It’s the first of a two-game mini-series against the Magic, finishing up on Tuesday. In the interim, the Pistons will need to find an answer for Vucevic, who had 37 points and 11 rebounds and Fournier, who had a season-high 29 points.
Vucevic had 15 of his points in the fourth quarter and the Pistons, using mainly Mason Plumlee and Isaiah Stewart, had trouble defending him in the post. Vucevic, an All-Star candidate, had his way throughout the game for the Magic (13-18).
Fournier did most of his damage in the first half, with 16 points and another 11 points in the third period.
The Pistons (8-22) got the double-digit lead down to 99-92 at the 3:26 mark, but Vucevic scored six straight points to create enough margin to hold on down the stretch.
Jerami Grant had 24 points and five rebounds, Josh Jackson 17 points and 10 rebounds and rookie Saben Lee added a career-best 12 points, four rebounds and five assists.
“He's a true point guard. He’s a leader and he plays with a pure heart. There’s no 'me' in his game was whatsoever,” coach Dwane Casey said. “That's something that comes out when he's out on the floor. He has 'it' and that leadership.
“He's learning, he's young and he's rookie. His future, like a lot of our guys, they're doing some good things, but just not enough to win in the NBA right now — but that's going to come.”
The Magic duo accounted for 23 of their 28 points in the first quarter, when they got off to a good start. Fournier had 12 points and Vucevic 11, as the Magic held a 28-26 margin. The Pistons finished the first quarter with an 11-2 run, with Bey hitting a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws and Jackson scoring on a dunk and a drive in the final stretch.
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Terrence Ross (17 points) hit a floater and a 3-pointer in the opening minutes of the second and the Magic pushed their lead to double digits with a jumper by Vucevic, a floater by Ross and a pair of free throws by Chasson Randle.
The Pistons charged back and got within 46-41. Lee, who had seven points in the quarter, had a lay-in in the final minutes and Plumlee’s dunk got the Pistons within 56-48 at halftime.